When it comes to court-mandated visitation after a divorce, most people assume that visitation pertains to the child’s non-custodial parent. While this is certainly the most common type of visitation discussed post-divorce, the change in custody can also impact the child’s grandparents. While every state is different, New Jersey has some unique rules surrounding grandparents’ visitation rights. Here’s what your New Jersey family law attorney wants both parents and grandparents to understand.
Visitation Rights Are Protected By New Jersey Law
In New Jersey, state law protects the grandparents’ right to visit their grandchild. But the law has a few very strict requirements in place before the court will grant visitation to the grandparents if the custodial parent has decided against allowing visitation. These requirements include the following:
- The visitation must be in the best interest of the child.
- Failure to allow the grandparents to visit the child would cause undue harm or distress to the child.
- The grandparents have an established relationship with the child.
- The grandparents should not have been absent from their grandchild’s life for an extended time prior to the new custody agreement.
- The grandparents should not have any history of emotional or physical abuse toward the grandchild.
- Any other requirements or factors that the court deems appropriate to review.
Keep in mind that the court will always prioritize the needs of the child and if they determine that visitation with their grandparents would cause any kind of harm, the court may revoke visitation without issue.
What Happens if a Parent Denies Visitation?
Parents have a responsibility to do what they feel is best for their children. But if they refuse to allow grandparents to see their grandchild, those grandparents have the right to petition the court to intercede.
Though the parent refusing to grant visitation may be in conflict with the New Jersey law, the court will assess the situation fairly. If the court determines that the grandparents are legally entitled to visitation by satisfying the requirements listed above, visitation must be allowed. But the grandparents must be able to show the court that not having visitation rights will negatively impact the grandchild in question. They must also be able to show the court that resuming visitation will be beneficial to the child’s well-being.
That means there must not be a history of abuse on the grandparents’ part. Similarly, the court will consider how visitation could impact the grandchild’s parents. For example, if the grandparents and the child’s parents have a contentious relationship or a history of emotional or physical abuse exists, the court may deny visitation.
The court will also consider how long it’s been since the child had contact with their grandparents. If it’s been years or the child doesn’t have a close and established relationship with their grandparents, visitation may be denied. But if the grandparents can show that they were actively involved in their grandchild’s life prior to the revocation of visitation, the court may award visitation.
Speak With a New Jersey Family Law Attorney to Discuss Your Situation
If you’re a grandparent who hasn’t been allowed to see their grandchildren after a custody change or life event, seek help as soon as possible. At Carvajal Law, our team understands the unique challenges that grandparents face when trying to maintain a relationship with their grandchildren. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.